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ISS Shifts Orbit To Avoid Space Debris

October 26, 2010

Officials with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) ordered the International Space Station (ISS) to change course in order to avoid a collision with floating space debris, various media outlets reported Tuesday morning.

“A decision has been taken to correct the flight orbit of the ISS,” a spokesperson representing the mission control center near Moscow told the RIA Novosti news agency, according to AFP. “The engines will be switched on at 1425 Moscow time (1025 GMT).”

By firing the rockets for three minutes, the ISS crew was able to alter the space station’s orbit by more than 2,200 feet, according to what mission control told Reuters in a statement. That would allow the unidentified object in question to move past the ISS at a distance of one mile.

“There is a one in a thousand chance of a collision, but we decided this morning that that was too high,” a Roscosmos spokeswoman told the news agency in a telephone interview.

On Monday, the six person ISS crew began preparations for the arrival of a new cargo ship, which is due to be launched on Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The new craft, dubbed ISS Progress 40, will bring more than 1,900 pounds of propellant, 1,100 pounds of oxygen, nearly 500 pounds of water, and over 2,800 pounds of food for the three Russians and three Americans currently on board the station.

Furthermore, according to the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), “Space shuttle Discovery will launch Nov. 1 to begin the STS-133 mission to the space station. On the orbiter’s final spaceflight, the crew members will install the Permanent Multipurpose Module and deliver important spare parts to the station along with the Express Logistics Carrier-4 and Robonaut 2.”

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